Thursday, June 23, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Breast cancer is epidemic. Currently, one in seven women will get breast cancer, up from one in twelve in 1971 and one in twenty in 1950. The incidence of breast cancer continues to rise with the disease occurring in ever younger women. There exists a safer, less invasive, and more accurate method than mammography for examining breasts for signs of cancer. That method is called THERMOGRAPHY.
Thermography, a form of diagnostic imaging based on infrared heat emissions from targeted regions of the body, has been used by progressive physicians in the United States and Europe since 1962 as a screening for breast cancer. The use of thermography for medical imaging began as a civilian offshoot of high technology remote imaging from space which is a surveillance technique used by the military. The detection of early breast cancer was thermography’s first medical use. In fact, between 1974 and 1976, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) required the use of thermography in their large scale breast cancer detection project. But, as complete diagnostic criteria were undeveloped at the time, the NIH dropped thermography from its program and radiologists shifted attention to mammography.
Now, with new digital equipment and the development of objective criteria in 1975 by the prestigious Pasteur Institute in France, thermography has emerged as a proper science and reliable screening procedure. The National Cancer Institute has reconsidered its past judgment on thermography and has funded several large-scale clinical projects. Publications in prestigious medical journals have validated the use of thermography. Thermography has been developed over the past thirty-five years in major medical universities and women’s clinics around the world. It is the method of choice in screening for breast disease in most of the developed countries. The U.S. and Canada have lagged behind in applying this safe and sensitive technique.
As the body’s cells go through their metabolic energy conversion processes, they emit heat. Skin temperature is a reflection of the quality of blood flow in that area. The thermography device converts heat energy emissions into electronic video signals displayed on a computer monitor. Up to 64,000 different points on the body are scanned in a single displayed image, each point representing about 1 square millimeter (1mm= 0.04 inches), thermography is able to register these heat emissions and display them on a computer monitor. It thereby provides a diagnostic window into the functional physiologic status of a given body area such as the female breast. Heat emissions from the body can provide an accurate diagnostic window for early signs of breast cancer.
As tumors form, they develop new, abnormal blood vessels called neoangiogenic vessels. Thermography excels at detecting these vessels. Thermography has an 88% sensitivity with as much as 96% reliability for indicating cancer, especially in premenopausal women. When there is an inaccuracy in thermography, it is almost never a false negative but rather a false positive. That means interpretation of the thermography image may lead to suspicion of a cancer process when in reality there is none. It is best to err on the side of caution. Thermography is especially effective for screening younger women who typically have denser breast tissue.
Thermography offers a very early warning system, often able to indicate a cancer process five to eight years before it would be detectable by mammography. Most breast tumors have been growing slowly for up to 20 years before they are found through typical diagnostic techniques.
Thermography can detect cancers when they are in a minute physical stage of development, at a time when reversing the disease progression is easier. Thermography is very effective as a screening for women with breast implants and can even detect leakage of silicone breast implants. Mammography, on the other hand, is very ineffective as a screening device in cases of women with breast implants. Mammography has multiple drawbacks and many women are beginning to realize this. There is pressure by some radiologists to insist on more screenings at increasingly earlier ages. Mammography is uncomfortable, even painful for women as the breast is held in a vise during screening. Additionally, the amount of pressure exerted in mammography is being doubled. Mammography is only 40% to 60% accurate for premenopausal women or for menopausal women taking synthetic hormones. It is also considerably inaccurate for women with large breasts.
A serious drawback of mammography is the high incidence of false negative results. This means the test indicates there is no cancer in the breast when there actually is; unfortunately, a woman may discover the breast cancer in progress only later when the time for early intervention has already passed.Of greatest concern is that mammography exposes the breast to damaging radiation. Based on 40 years of studying effects of low-dose radiation on humans, University of California at Berkley Professor John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D., an authority on the healthy effects of ionizing radiation, estimates that 75% to 83% of breast cancer could be prevented by avoiding or minimizing exposure to the ionizing radiation from mammography, x-rays, and other medical sources.At present, there are approximately 1,000 thermography devices in the United States which provide this detailed, clinically valuable information. The thermography procedure is simple and noninvasive. The woman stands bare chested about 8 feet from the thermographic device and the imaging takes only a matter of minutes. No rays of any kind enter the patient’s body and there is no pain or compression of the breasts as in a mammogram. Thermography is a “breast-friendly” procedure. It takes several weeks for the test result to be processed. A follow-up visit with the physician is necessary for interpretation of the results.